One of Oregon’s youngest medical marijuana patients is a 7-year-old girl. Her mother administers medical marijuana daily to help combat the effects of chemotherapy. It is easy to jump to judgement in a case like this one, but if I had a child who had to deal with the effects of chemotherapy – I would try all options at my disposal, too.
The Oregonian reports that Mykayla Comstock is “one of the 2,201 cancer patients authorized by the state of Oregon to use medical marijuana. The Oregon Medical Marijuana Program serves 52 children who have a qualifying medical condition,parental consent and a doctor’s approval.”
I have no ethical problems with using marijuana to help a cancer patient deal with the effects of chemotherapy. I know the potential side effects of cannabis use in children are not great, but somehow they don’t look as bad when measuring them next to chemotherapy. Mykayla’s mother, Erin Purchase, claims that the marijuana helps her daughter deal with the pain, nausea, depression and sleep deprivation that her treatments cause. “She’s like she was before,” her mother said. “She’s a normal kid.”
Mykayla herself says that the marijuana treatment makes her feel better, but a little “funny.” She told The Oregonian, “It helps me eat and sleep. The chemotherapy makes you feel like you want to stay up all night long.”
With all of the drugs out there that we willingly give our children when they need them, maybe marijuana is a viable alternative – where legal. At least it’s derived naturally. I think if we removed the stigma of its being an “illegal drug,” we could appreciate the documented healing benefits. In Oregon, there is one loophole that doesn’t sit well in the whole treatment for children.
Oregon’s law, approved by voters 14 years ago, requires no monitoring of a child’s medical marijuana use by a pediatrician. The law instead invests authority in parents to decide the dosage, frequency and manner of a child’s marijuana consumption.
The state imposes no standards for quality, safety or potency in the production of marijuana.
Now this, I don’t understand. If marijuana is to be regarded as an appropriate medical option, shouldn’t its use be monitored by a pediatrician? And why no standards for quality, safety, or potency?
Another element of this story may not sit well. Purchase is a daily user of marijuana herself, and believes in its healing properties so much so that she used it during her pregnancy and throughout breastfeeding. I’m sure many would disagree with that approach. I really want to be open-minded about the treatment of her 7-year-old, but I have to admit this part of the story made me a little wary.
Regardless of how anyone feels about the treatment, Mykayla went into remission a month after starting chemotherapy. Cancer specialists say such a development is expected, but her mother credits the marijuana use. Frankly, I find it hard to sit in judgement of anyone who has to see their child go through this – no matter how conflicted I am about their methods.